C‑Terminal Modification of Fully Unprotected Peptide Hydrazides via in Situ Generation of Isocyanates

A method for chemo- and regioselective conjugation of nucleophiles to fully unprotected peptides and proteins via in situ generation of C-terminal isocyanates is reported. Oxidation of C-terminal peptide hydrazides in aqueous media followed by Curtius rearrangement of acyl azides reliably generates isocyanates, which react with a variety of external nucleophiles, such as hydrazines, hydrazides, aromatic thiols, and hydroxylamines. Multiple peptides and a 53 kDa protein hydrazide were conjugated to different nucleophiles using this reaction.